WELLSBURG - Brooke made several mistakes and they cost it a winning season and a possible spot in the state playoffs as it gave up a fourth-quarter touchdown to Morgantown in a 27-20 loss on Senior Night at Brooke Memorial Stadium. With the defeat, the Bruins finished the season at 5-5.
Junior quarterback Alec Buchmelter threw three first-half touchdowns. Then, the Bruins defense, which held the No. 7-ranked Mohigans to 127 total yards, jumped offsides on a crucial fourth-down play, which led to the winning touchdown.
''This game was a microcosm of our season,'' Brooke coach Tom Bruney said. ''It really was, but I was very impressed with the way our defense played (Friday night). Our defense played lights out and they have in the last six weeks.''
Bruney laid it all on the line with senior Tim Faulkner, who gained more than 1,600 yards this season. Faulkner, who was the only ballcarrier for the Bruins besides Buchmelter, ground out 137 yards with 28 carries. One of them was a 54-yard, first-quarter touchdown scamper.
''There were times when I wanted the officials to blow a whistle so Timmy wouldn't get hurt,'' Bruney said of Faulkner's never-give-up running style.
''What heart he has played with all year He has rushed for more than 1,600 yards and I think half of them he got on his own.''
Faulkner's 54-yard touchdown run was typical. He took a handoff and crashed into the right side of the line. His legs kept churning and it wasn't long before he squirted out of the scrum and raced untouched to the end zone to give the Bruins a 14-7 lead late in the first period.
Brooke got on the board with the first scrimmage play of the game when Buchmelter found senior Mason Bates wide open in the middle of the field at the Morgantown 30. Bates turned and raced to the end zone. Austin Graham's kick made it 7-0 with just 25 seconds gone off the game clock.
Things looked like they were going Brooke's way early when the Bruins recovered Mohigans quarterback Mark Johnson's fumble at the Morgantown 20-yard line.
However, on third down, Buchmelter's pass was intercepted at the goal line by junior Shane Commodore, who shook off a Brooke tackler and raced up the left sideline 100 yards to paydirt. Sabastian Morales was true with his kick to tie the game at 7-7.
After Faulkner's run got the lead back, the Bruins defense, which held the Mohigans to 93 yards rushing and only 27 through the air, forced a punt. On Brooke's third play of the possession, Buchmelter was picked off again. This time it was Jalan Thomas, another Mohigans junior, that grabbed the ball at the Bruin 40 and went all the way to the 7 before he was hauled down.
On fourth down from the 2, the 222-pound Thomas plowed into the end zone. Morales tied the game at 14-14 with his boot that barely cleared the crossbar.
Morgantown took its first lead with 1:13 left in the first half when Johnson hit Christian Allen in the end zone with a scoring pass from 4 yards out. The kick failed, but the Mohigans went to the locker room with a 20-14 lead.
This Mohigans touchdown also was set up by an interception. Senior Brandon Harmon picked off Buchmelter at the Brooke 45 and returned it to the 39 to set up the short scoring drive.
''Those three interceptions hurt us,'' Bruney said. ''Take them away and we're up 14-0 at the half.''
The Bruins, however, dominated the third quarter. The Mohigans got the ball first at their own 29 and drove to their 44 where the Brooke defense forced a punt. The kick went out of bounds at the Bruin 35.
Brooke put together an impressive 18-play scoring drive that was culminated by a Buchmelter-to-Bates pass for the touchdown.